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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking for a smaller-size fish to turn over and keep the white foreground pool filter sand in a 135 gallon tank clean and pristine in appearance?

Are there any nice small species of Geophagus or a better alternative which would work well for this? Would Bolivian Rams do this?

I don't want anything which would dig up my dense planting in the rear of the tank though.

And would the activities of Geophagus leave the sand bed in annoyingly uneven piles everywhere?
 

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Sorry, I think you will not find a fish to do this. By design, nature is not what we would call "neat"! If you find a fish to eat dirt and debris off the bottom, they will not do it in a neat way. There are those who might plow through to find bits of food but they are no more organized than an algae eater cleaning glass. They leave it looking like a kids sandbox. They also have little regard for plants and roots and may find them good to eat.
I think you have two ways to go. Daily frequent cleanings with a syphon or learning to love the look.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Actually I was just looking for a fish to turn over the surface of the sand a bit. I appreciate that white sand can sometimes start to look a little green or brown when a bit of algae/bacteria/etc grows on it. So if a fish was just sifting through the sand a bit to keep it mixed, as Geophagus do, then i would think that would suffice to keep it from starting to look dirty on the surface.

I haven't kept sand-sifting fish such as Eartheaters myself, so I wasn't sure if they happen to keep the sand surface more or less level, of it they are continuously spitting it in piles and thus creating endless little mounds throughout. And do Geophagus happen to dig deep holes, or just constantly skim the surface sand?

Sand sifting starfish are used to this effect in reef tanks. And Malaysian trumpet snails and Nassarius snails are used in freshwater and reef tanks each, but those seem to stir the sand under the surface more so than the sand on the surface...

I've been very inspired by this tank by Tom Barr, which I was hoping to use as inspiration. And my intention was to have a similar sand bed in the foreground, a similar wood barrier keeping the background plants contained, and cycled powerheads to sweep detritus back towards an intake. So I'm not looking for a fish to eat the detritus, but only turn the surface of the sand over if that's what they like to spend their time doing. (Tom's client regularly replaces the top layer of sand in that tank btw). I would have hoped in a scape such as that the planted areas might stay appropriately intact while the sand sifters would prefer to ply their activities in the foreground sand bed.

 

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LDA25 pleco's are very good at turning over sand pebbles while searching/foraging for food.
They don't get much larger than otocinclus.
I gotta a couple that I have had for four or five year's ,and they are interesting to watch as they filp over the grain's of sand or fine gravel.
 

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Go with black sand.

That's my own solution, anyways. LOL

I think white sand is nothing but a royal pain. There's not going to be anything you can do to keep it looking white over time other than removing and replacing it.
 

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I've currently got a small tank set up with flourite black sand.

For maybe the first month or so, I would see areas were detritus would accumulate, but then it seemed to disappear. I've got a pretty healthy population of MTS (also ramshorns and mini ramshorns), and I suspect that once there were enough of them, their movement effectively 'churned' the top layers of the substrate, causing the detritus to get mixed in.

I currently don't see any detritus, just a handful of dead snailshells (mostly ramshorns and pond/bladder snail shells) that I haven't bothered to clean up.

My MTS don't seem to burrow deeply, they just plow through the sand a milimeter or two deep.
 
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